When the going gets kind of tough, the kind get going! No one who has ventured outside their online bubble the last few months will be in any doubt about the situation in beautiful Mallorca. ‘Dire’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. But Mallorca has weathered terrible storms before, and as always when people are suffering, others quietly and without fanfare step in to help.
One such helper is Dino Zamora Jaume, taking care of the dispossessed on the south west part of Mallorca through the charity SOS Calvia.
It started as just a neighbour, Juan Juan, helping out his neighbours, two or three families struggling during the lockdown. During the summer the number of people needing help grew and grew, and SOS Calviá now has 114 registered families on their books, as well as some 40 volunteers.
When Juan stepped down, Manuel Mas took over the reins and and is now the president of the charity.
“One day in August last year my girlfriend Sarah said “I’m sure we can do something to help, we have all the time in the world.” I had been running a restaurant on Magalluf beach before that, before the season ended late 2019. I worked a couple of months in Cala Canta in early 2020 but then Covid hit! We managed to open the restaurant in Magalluf in mid June, but then had to close at the end of September. I know how bad the situation was and wanted to help.”
Now Zamora and team spend most of their time zipping between Calviá and Palma, picking up donations of food and clothes, bedding, heaters and other things families with children of all ages might need. A well organised clothes bank resembling a small shop has been of great help to the families, especially during the cold winter months.
“In the beginning we only collected non-perishables but now we have got Frutas Vilchez and Highland Gold on board. They receive direct money donations and deliver to us, pallets of fresh fruits and vegetables and other supplies needed by our hungry families. In the beginning Manuel would deliver food to each family by himself. As the number of needy grew, I started helping with the deliveries, but now we have been lucky enough to get a unit with a fridge-freezer in Son Ferrer. People come to that unit and pick up food, cleaning and hygiene products. The opening times are Thursdays 4 to 6:30pm and Fridays 10am to 1:30pm.”
And it’s not only families with children who need help from S.O.S. Calviá.
“I heard about a 75-year-old English guy living by himself, broken arm, no mobile phone. That night I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. I just took all the food I had in my fridge and cupboards and went to him. He had received no help apart from a food card worth 30 euros. Now he is getting help.”
A famous example of people pitching in and a positive side of Facebook’s I have a Question, was the single mother with a small child who couldn’t afford to fix her broken washing machine nor buy a new one. I posted a request for help and Richard Prior of Radio One Mallorca got involved instantly.
“An electrician immediately volunteered his services but there was nothing he could do. However, within 24 hours a good Samaritan had given her a washing machine, and a plumber went to collect it and install it, all free of charge.”
“And only in Portals we have collected 55 supermarket trolleys full of food in one weekend - 120 trolleys in January alone!” the Mallorcan native says, smiling behind his mask.
“Yes, one of the jobs our team of volunteers does, is stand outside supermarkets and get people to give us, say, one can of tuna if they have bought three.”
As SOS Calviá becomes better known, they don’t have to beg and scrape for donations. People pledge to give hundreds of euros a month, and without asking, they received a twin stroller in early February.
They are a registered charity, checking that each person receiving help has already applied for food cards through official channels, and with Carmen Galvez taking care of the increasing paperwork.
“But we are always looking for more volunteers, especially to collect food outside supermarkets,” Zamora, who is not 100% optimistic about Mallorca going “back to normal” this summer, says.
“At least now people are getting help, and the reason why Sarah and I chose to support Manuel Mas and SOS Calviá in favour of all the other charities on the island, is that every single item that is collected, and every single cent donated, is used to buy food to give to our families. I believe that one of the reasons we get so much support is that people trust us.”